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"Mr President, I want to convey my appreciation to our rapporteur Ms Rodust on the painstaking work that she has done in bringing this report to this stage. I also want to convey a welcome to Minister Coveney to this House. The Minister is no stranger to Northern Ireland’s fishing sector and we look forward to positive action during his time in charge in the Council. Let me focus on some specific policy areas. I agree that this Parliament is right to support a ban on the discarding of fish. This is morally indefensible and should end. However, we must recognise that it is the very rules of the common fisheries policy that have contributed to such a situation. As well as this vote today, Commissioner, I urge you to act in haste and look at the policies already in place which contribute to the discarding of fish and remedy this situation. I would commend those Member States which have already launched initiatives to deal with fish discarding, and I want to recognise that the industry in Northern Ireland is being proactive with continuing work on gear selectivity. On regionalisation we are moving in the right direction. Regional advisory councils are central to the policy, but they need to have the appropriate remit and resources to allow them to deliver a regional policy where decisions are based at regional level and not in the normal top-down Brussels fashion. On 3 November 1976 the Council agreed a resolution that extended the fishing zones of Member States in the North Sea and North Atlantic to 200 miles. Annex 7 to this resolution recognised the so-called ‘Hague preference’ in order to take account of the needs of certain local communities particularly dependent upon fishing. Greenland, the Irish Republic and the northern part of the United Kingdom were defined as ‘Hague preference’ regions. Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, should benefit from the Hague resolution, but does not. In fact, for some considerable time, our fishermen have had fishing opportunities taken away from them because of the resolution. Fishermen from other parts of Europe not classified as Hague regions are penalised in a similar way."@en1

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